email a friend
printable version
Location Antarctica
Central coordinates 59o 12.00' West  62o 18.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4ii, A4iii
Area 3,453 ha
Altitude 0 - 250m
Year of IBA assessment 2011





Site description Harmony Point is an ice-free headland located on the western coast of Nelson Island, South Shetland Islands. Harmony Point is designated as Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 133, with an area of 3450 ha including both the terrestrial and marine environment. The IBA is defined as the same area as the ASPA.

Harmony Point is of undulating topography rising to ~40 m, with numerous streams and abundant vegetation comprising mainly mosses, lichens, and two species of vascular plant (Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis) (ASPA No. 133 Management Plan, 2005).

The nearest permanent scientific station is Great Wall (China), a year-round facility with a capacity for 40 people situated on Fildes Peninsula, King George Island, ~16 km to the northeast of Harmony Point (COMNAP, Antarctic Facilities, accessed 31/08/2010).

Potter Peninsula, King George Island, lies on the northeastern shore of Maxwell Bay, bordered to the west by Potter Cove and to the east by Stranger Point. The southern shoreline of Potter Peninsula is designated Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 132. The IBA is defined by the same boundary as ASPA No. 132. As such, the IBA follows the coast at Potter Peninsula from Potter Cove to Stranger Point.

The site is largely ice-free and comprises raised pebble beaches, basaltic structures and moraines (ASPA No. 132 Management Plan, 2005). Small bays along the shoreline separate rocky headlands. Vegetation is relatively diverse and substantial, dominated by lichens.

The nearest permanent scientific station is Jubany (Argentina), which operates year-round with a maximum capacity of 100 personnel (COMNAP, Antarctic Facilities, accessed 25/08/2010). Jubany Station is located ~500 m from in the northwestern boundary of the ASPA and IBA. A number of other scientific stations also operate in Maxwell Bay, more information on which can be found under IBA Ant053.

Key Biodiversity The ice-free land at Harmony Point supports a wide range of bird colonies including one of the largest colonies of Chinstrap Penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) in the Antarctic Peninsula region, with approximately 90,000 pairs nesting on Harmony Point in 1995-96 (Silva et al. 1998) and around 11,000 breeding pairs recorded at The Toe in 1987 (Woehler 1993). In 1995-96, 3347 breeding pairs of Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) were recorded and 45 breeding pairs of Imperial Shag (Phalacrocorax atriceps). N. Coria (pers. comm. 2010) reported 395 pairs Southern Giant Petrels (Macronectes giganteusi) breeding in the 2009-10 season, which compares to 485 pairs Coria recorded in 2004-05. Silva et al. (1998) reported 479 pairs of Cape Petrel (Daption capense), 144 pairs of Greater Sheathbill (Chionis alba), 61 pairs Antarctic Skua (Catharacta Antarctica), 128 pairs of Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus), 173 pairs of Antarctic Tern (Sterna vittata), and a combined total of around 1000 pairs of Wilson’s Storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) and Black-bellied Storm-petrel (Fregetta tropica) at Harmony Point in 1995-96.

Non-bird biodiversity: Weddell Seal (Leptonychotes weddellii), Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonina), and Antarctic Fur Seal (Arctocephalus gazella) frequently haul out on beaches at Harmony Point (ASPA No. 133 Management Plan, 2005). Southern Elephant Seal have been recorded breeding on Harmony Point (Carlini et al. 2003). Crabeater Seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) are occasionally seen in the vicinity.

Large numbers of Southern Elephant Seals (Mirounga leonina) haul out annually to breed on Potter Peninsula (ASPA No. 132 Management Plan, 2005). Carlini (pers. comm., 2010) recorded 272 female Southern Elephant Seals in the 2006 season. Antarctic Fur Seals (Arctocephalus gazella) and occasionally Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii), Crabeater Seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) and Leopard Seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) haul out along beaches at this site.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Gentoo Penguin Pygoscelis papua breeding  1995-1996  3,347 breeding pairs  A1, A4ii  Near Threatened 
Chinstrap Penguin Pygoscelis antarcticus breeding  1987-1995  101,000 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus breeding  2004-2009  395-485 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Snowy Sheathbill Chionis albus breeding  1995-1996  144 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - seabirds breeding  1987-2009  104,886 breeding pairs  A4iii   

Protection status ASPA No.133

References ASPA No. 133 Harmony Point, Nelson Island: Management Plan (2005). ASPA No. 132 Potter Peninsula, King George Island: Management Plan (2005)

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Harmony Point, Nelson Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/12/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife